Lebanon: Give women equal citizenship rights to men under the nationality law
EN Action Number: 36.2
Date: 2011 Nov 29
In July 2010, Equality Now issued Women’s Action 36.1 calling on the government of Lebanon to recognize the adverse effects that the discriminatory Lebanese nationality law has on the families of Lebanese women married to foreign men, and to revise the Lebanese nationality law to ensure that all Lebanese citizens have the equal right to confer their Lebanese nationality on their spouses and children. Our action highlighted the case of Hiam Abd El Samad, her Egyptian husband Anwar Hasaneen, and their three daughters Nour, 17, ‘Amar, 12, and ‘Ayia, 9 years old who have had to suffer significant hardships and deprivation as a result of the nationality law.
Equality Now commends new regulations issued on 23 September 2011 by the Minister of Labor, Mr. Charbel Nahhas, introducing amendments to the labor law aimed at eliminating various forms of discrimination against the non-Lebanese spouses of Lebanese women and their children. The regulations, now in force, grant work permits without the need of a sponsor to non-Lebanese spouses of Lebanese women, effectively making it easier for employers to hire non-nationals. Such amendments will enhance the situation of Hiam’s family. Her husband will be able automatically to obtain a work permit without having to find a sponsor, giving him greater possibilities to find a job. He will also more easily avoid possible exploitation as he will no longer be tied to an individual sponsor. Hiam’s daughters will also be able automatically to obtain a work permit.
Under the new regulations, non-Lebanese husbands of Lebanese women and their children can renew their residency permits without having to pay fees, even if they have no job. However, if the children of Lebanese mothers and non-Lebanese fathers subsequently marry non-Lebanese citizens, they are not permitted to stay in the country even if that is the only country they have known.
In addition, Hiam’s family is still not able to access free health care and other social benefits due to their status as non-nationals. The Labor ministry’s positive steps therefore do not go far enough in fulfilling the rights of Lebanese women to confer their nationality to their spouses and children and to enjoy their basic human rights.
The nationality law of Lebanon only allows a man (and not a woman) to confer Lebanese nationality upon his spouse and his children. This law denies women equality with men in terms of nationality and undermines a woman’s status as an equal citizen and contradicts the Lebanese Constitution, which provides that all Lebanese citizens are equal before the law and enjoy the same civil and political rights. It also contradicts many of the international human rights standards ratified by Lebanon including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Equality Now is asking for your help:
Please continue to write to the Lebanese authorities (see the link below) welcoming these new labor regulations but asking them to revise the nationality law urgently and comprehensively to ensure that all Lebanese citizens, male or female, have the equal right to confer their Lebanese nationality on their spouses and children.
To take action and learn more, click here